Monday, January 02, 2006

The Issue of Birth Control

A compilation of the blog posts that I wrote on our journey in finding out all about birth control methods and seeking God in what He wanted our family to do as far as reproduction...

IS 4 IT?:

Kind of related to my last post, some of you may be wondering, "When is this chic going to stop having babies?" I know lots of people wonder that when couples have kids at the rate we do. :-) We've had plenty of comments along the way about how "surely" we "are done"...even before this pregnancy we got that comment. Apparently having 3 kids is seen as a big family these days...oh dear, we are just busting at the seams. :-) So funny...people's perspectives. I don't get mad or anything...I seriously think it's funny. I just laugh.

But, since I'm of the non-private sort, and since this blog is really like an online journal for me in many ways, and just because...I thought I'd let you all in on where we are with that whole reproduction thing and the number of children we think we might have. Guess what?

We have. No. Idea!! :-) How do you like that for an answer? :-)

It's a very interesting subject/topic. Lots of people have very definite opinions on the matter...and more specifically whether or not to "control" the number of children you have. One side says to definitely control the amount of children you have yourself. It's irresponsible if you don't. The other side says to trust God completely with the amount of children you have...who else but Him knows exactly the timing of when He needs/wants a child to be born...He can definitely be trusted with this aspect of your life, as well as all others. They are both good arguments. People on each side of the camp are very convinced that theirs is the right way. And some (most probably) see both ways but feel it's just a definite personal decision for each couple.

(Disclaimer: PLEASE...with respect, this post is NOT at all a request for your advice. I am NOT in ANY WAY soliciting your opinions. I am one of those who feels like this is something that has to be a very personal decision that each couple makes on their own as to what they believe overall and what God would have them do personally. I'm sharing this because that's just where we are...and I know lots of couples who are there too. I'm not sharing it in hopes of answers. Just wanted to clarify that. Feel completely free to share your opinion as far as how you feel personally in a respectful way, but I'm just saying I'm not asking for answers here.)

I, personally, have grown to lean more towards the camp of just trusting God. BUT, at the same time, I do feel like God can tell someone when He is done using their uterus to reproduce. BUT (again), if that's the case, wouldn't He be able to shut up their uterus (those very words are used in the Bible several times) if He's done with it...surely He doesn't have to rely on us to take a pill or monitor ovulation times, right?

Having said that, I also don't really want to be performing the miracle of birth every year until menopause. I love the idea of having many children, but not necessarily the idea of HAVING many children. :-) Growing another human being inside your body can really take its toll. The birthing process and recovery can also take its toll. It's hard work to say the least.

Also, throw into the mix that we really feel a call to adopt. Does God want us to put the brakes on bio. kids ourselves at some point to adopt or does He want us just to trust Him with each (bio. and adopted), therefore not using any form of birth control?

(Sidenote: Something that doesn't apply to us, and just adds to my belief that it is a very personal, each-couple-has-to-decide-on-their-own thing...I believe that just because you are married doesn't mean you are supposed to have children at all. Some couples are called to things and lifestyles that would not be appropriate for children to be born into...nothing bad obviously, but just not a lifestyle that would be nurturing for children. Those couples have to obviously decide how to go about things. Just wanted to address that. Some people believe that if you are married, having kids is the next step...not always so in my opinion.)

So, yeah...that's where we are. We're not sure the answers to all those questions for us yet. I've talked to several couples over the years who wonder the same things. Trusting God does not mean you are blind. He is our friend. He lets us in on things and lets us know exactly what we should do each step of the way. We are obviously not "freaking" about all these questions that we have concerning children in our lives. We know the answers will come in due time (they're just not here yet)...we are at peace completely. But, just wanted to write all this down and share the questions that some (including us) have.

It's a very interesting thing. And, pretty weighty also. Being able to bring children into this world is an amazing privilege. I don't want to stop short of what God has for me...don't want to hinder anything that He has, whether that means we only have 4 bio. kids or we have more...whether that means we have more bio. kids, but just not right now...just whatever that means. He will give us the answers, we are sure of it. It's fun looking forward to see how this will all play out. Ahh, living your life for God and looking to Him for ALL answers is so exciting and unexpected and spontaneous. Love it.


Back in 2002 I stopped taking "the pill" know, the little one that prevents babies from entering your uterus when you don't feel they should. A while after that, for whatever reason, I did a tiny bit of research about that pill. I never had before.

I had heard people say before that the pill caused abortions. I, of course, dismissed those people as being a little on the extremist side...never gave it much thought to be quite honest. I mean, come on, everyone took the pill...geez-a-loo (as Frank Barrone would say).

Well, in my tiny (and I do mean tiny) bit of research, I found a few things that really did substantiate those "extremists'" claims. I found that some BCPs (birth control pills) had 3 actions:
1. inhibition of ovulation
2. inhibition of sperm transport
3. production of a "hostile endometrium", which presumably prevents or disrupts implantation of the developing baby if the first two mechanisms fail

I actually sent out an email (didn't have a blog) when I found that out to many of my friends. I was shocked and appalled. The first 2 are fine, but if they fail and the 3rd action is used to prevent pregnancy, well...if you believe that a life is formed when a sperm meets an egg, and that joined sperm and egg is then prevented from implanting by that "hostile endometrium"...that is abortion folks.

O.K., so in my very limited research at that time, for some reason I was left with the impression that not all birth control pills are this way. I tabled that research...we were in full baby mode for the next few years...until now. We are still in baby mode obviously since we have a few around here, but as mentioned before, we are praying about what to do...yes, still in prayer stages on that one. Quiver full philosophy? Should we prevent? Is prevention O.K., but only with the natural family planning/fertility awareness method? Oh, the questions turn over and over in my mind...still. We will get answers as we do about everything else. He doesn't just leave us hanging, thankfully.

But, just wanted to bring this out. For one thing, well, IF we should choose to "prevent," this is by far my method of choice. But also, really wanted to ask all of you because I know tons of great super-Godly people who use this little pill daily. I look at this research that I've done (again, a bit limited, but more thorough than before) and I'm left with the question, "what the heck do I do with this...there's no ignoring it." So, if all these great people are using it, I can think of one of 3 options why:
1. they don't know this information
2. they don't believe it or just don't works for them
3. they have found this to actually be untrue...all birth control pills are not abortifacient

So...dear people out there in me out. Seriously, tell me what you know. My resources are pretty limited and my time even more limited, so what gives (don't you love that Happy Days phrase)?

Here are just a few of the websites that Google gave me when searching out some answers:

Oh, there are so many other things that my mind is containing concerning this subject. I might just have to do a series on this topic.


Looks like, after a full day's worth of investigation yesterday (on and off of course...other things to do too), it is very true. One of the 3 actions of the birth control pill (ALL birth control pills from what I've seen in research) is literally an abortion. wonder the pill is so effective. If it fails to prevent fertilization, then doggone it, it'll just refuse a home for the wee one, therefore killing it off. Nice. Grrr!

And seriously...why don't we all know that about the pill? I personally had no idea. It should be common knowledge, esp. among evangelical Christians (or anyone pro-life). If not common knowledge (there are still people who don't talk about such things in mixed company), at least within the ladies' groups. It makes me sick to think that I took that kind of pill for a full year (little over) after we were married. Do we have any little fertilized eggs in heaven I wonder?

I don't feel guilty. I hate that it happened that way, but we were completely ignorant of it. But, I'm just saying...we should've known. My doctor was a very pro-life Christian...what gives (again that phrase...don't you just love it)? I have to assume that most people just don't know, just like I didn't. From the comments and emails that I got yesterday, I would say that that assumption is true. I personally want to now spread the word and hopefully you will too.

I looked at MANY websites yesterday, but one is a great website that one of the commentor's yesterday mentioned. She and her sister-in-law did a whole series just recently about things related to this topic. It is very, very interesting and so very informative. You should check it out here.

So, if any of you research all of this birth control stuff and find out any new info., please share. Not all people are at the point where they want to abandon all forms of birth control. For those people, seriously...check out that blog I mentioned above. She did a post about each form of birth control...very interesting stuff. There are several other forms of birth control that I never realized are also abortifacient. Lots to learn and think about.


We are in the middle of a mighty seeking of God. If you've read this blog for long, you can guess what it is. Why haven't we gotten any answers (or THE answer I should say) about this subject? Well, not sure. But, I can tell you one's got us dependent and seeking after God. Maybe that's right where He wants us and maybe it took this to get us to that point like never wouldn't be like that if He'd answered us easily.

What are we questioning? Yep, you got it. What to do with our fertility. :)

We even read a book about it (and countless things on the internet), but still no clear answer. (Yes, we know that GOD ALONE is the answerer for such things, but sometimes He uses such means to speak through)

Is there one answer for everyone? Don't know. Kind of doubt it. But, may be.

We haven't jumped over to the quiver full camp. We are exactly deadset 50/50 on the matter (one 50 being using non-abortifacient birth control, the other 50 being using nothing at all...not even NFP). Many are the thoughts in our heads about the subject and we can pretty sufficiently argue both sides equally (debate team, here we come). Believe me...we have all kinds of analogies and examples for each way. We are just calmly and peacably (but urgently and desperately at the same time) asking for and waiting for an answer from the Almighty, the only one Who made these here reproductive parts of ours.

There are MANY very, VERY logical reasons to be of the non-quiver full camp. MANY. But, following God doesn't always involve things that you would label logical, now does it? And, then again, there are also many very just-as-good reasons to be non-birth-control-using. :) Like my wording?

Anyway, this is a hefty, hefty subject. We are totally at peace in our seeking and waiting, but do realize the weight of this matter at the same time. It's exciting and scary simultaneously. Again, we can see both sides and have arguments for each. But, one question that Joel raised the other day really stuck with me. It is one of those simple-yet-profound things. I don't mean it's simple as in simple-minded. But, simple as in "could it really be this simple and the rest is all about trust?" Here it is:

If children are a blessing, (and the Bible nowhere says anything contradictory to that statement...correct me if I'm wrong) do we ever have the right to deny or prevent that blessing?

Interesting. When else do we prevent blessings from the Lord? A blessing is a blessing is a blessing. Seriously, can you think of another blessing that we try frantically to prevent?

In the logical scheme of things, I've likened contraception to a seatbelt. We totally and completely trust God to protect us. But, He doesn't ask us not to wear our seatbelt, now does He? Wearing your seatbelt is not a sign of a lack of trust. In the same way, getting your children's vaccinations (we're just focusing on people who do believe that is the best way to go for the sake of this argument, ok?) is not seen as a lack of trust (again, just go with this if you are anti-vaccination...surely you see my point) is seen as life-giving.

But then, that's the difference isn't it? These things promote life whereas contraception prevents it.

Is it really just about dying to self? I mean, most contraception is not usable to us Christians who believe in life beginning when an egg is fertilized. What is available to us as far as prevention is not at all natural and doesn't seem what God intended for our bodies. Of course there is that whole scripture about that man (can't remember his name) that "spilled his seed on the ground" and was killed. Now, of course his motive was wrong obviously. But, is that our example of that sort of prevention? If so, does that include the "raincoat" as some call the condom (and I hate that word...raincoat is much better, so therefore if I ever talk about this again, that is what I will be calling it, just FYI). The NFP and fertility awareness versions of prevention requires abstinence (if not using the raincoat or other contraception)...again NOT natural. For those of you who don't know, that is exactly when God made a woman's body to desire "relations" most. And besides, the Bible only says it's O.K. to abstain for a time of fasting and prayer, right?

So, now you see some of my thoughts...some. Now, what are some of the other reasons that I posted this? First of all, NOT to just open up a can of worms for no reason...I'm not an instigator. I deal with conflict when it arises, but don't enjoy it and therefore am not just posting this to get a rise out of people. I also have no desire or interest in condemning or judging others' actions. But, I am interested in what your thoughts are and how you arrived to that conclusion. And that brings me to...

What I do want is opinions/thoughts/perceptions/correcting on any of what I said here. I am VERY interested in what you have to say. And I want thoughts from you ALL...from those of you who only have one child, from those of you who have 8-10-12 children, from those of you who don't have any (by choice or not by choice...couples struggling with infertility tend to have a different perspective altogether sometimes). Please, weigh in on this. I am super curious. Not just out of curiosity's sake (as in nosy type stuff), but who knows...maybe God will use you to bring clarity to us.

Consider that question...

If children are a blessing, (and the Bible nowhere says anything contradictory to that statement...correct me if I'm wrong) do we ever have the right to deny or prevent that blessing?

Now, fire away. (P.S. If you are a little shy about this subject and feel more comfortable emailing me, feel free. Click on the EbersoleOnline link to the right, go to the Contact Us page, then scroll down to find my email link.)


Another preface: For those of you just tuning in who don't really know me, I ADORE my children...don't want you to get the wrong idea. I do not see them as a burden...not what this is about. They are a pure joy (even in the midst of fussiness and disobedience) and I delight in them daily and feel completely and thoroughly honored to have the privilege to train them up in the way they should go. These are just some continued ponderings on fertility and what to do with it. ;)

Great comments last post. Thank you so very much for commenting...all of you who did, from all walks of life and from all opinions (pro-prevention, anti-prevention, and all in between). Thank you all also for being so wonderfully uplifting and loving too with such a potentially heated topic. Oh, and those of you who chose to just email me...thank you too.

Last time my "one question" leaned toward the anti-prevention side. But, as I said, we are just a whopping 50/50 in this...both of us. So, I thought I'd pose some of our pro-prevention arguments, if you will (it always cracks me up when someone says "if you will" even if it's appropriate to say at the time...I don't know why...but, here I am saying it...I'm laughing at myself...ha ha ha). I'd love to hear what you think about these too. Here we go...

Another thing that Joel has recently said is that it's not like we aren't trusting-God kind of people. So, that's not the issue. But, truthfully, when does it just become stupidity? We are already riding around illegally in our car. Grady and Hadley are sharing a seat and seatbelt. Now that we have a visitor here for 6 more weeks, she and Eissa are sharing a seat and seatbelt too. Even in Brazil it's illegal :)...and unsafe. We've prayed for a bigger vehicle and it just hasn't been provided. So now we are still just trusting God that 1) He will provide at His right timing and 2) He will keep our sweet kiddos safe in our smushy car until then. We know He will.

Another thing is that we sometimes seem to be barely scraping by to be quite honest. We haven't ever been fully funded (as far as monthly committed funds) but have made it fine with special gifts. Those haven't been really coming in lately. Sometimes we have to use money that we are supposed to be setting aside for furlough (and other things) to pay the bills. Now, this isn't a whoa is us session about finances. I think that money would probably be the last thing on the list when considering whether or not to have more children right now (and just to clear it up...we do want more children...plan to have more biological and also adopt, but we are just now asking these questions about fertility in general). But, it does weigh in. Do we believe that God can and will provide for our every need? He has and will continue to...we are not desperate or anything...I don't want to paint that picture...just tight. But, do we believe that this could be another sign if you will (ha ha ha...I did it again) for our answer? We don't know. I mean, if He's not providing the money to, for example, buy the bigger vehicle...??? (we are illegal now, but we're fine...we can at least all fit in the car; if we had another baby, we truly wouldn't be able to go anywhere all together as a family...that just doesn't work).

Is it kind of like the old joke about the drowning man?

A man is drowning in a lake. A boat comes by and offers to save the man. The man says no, that God will save him. Another boat comes by and offers help. The man says no, God will save him. The man dies and goes to heaven and asks God why He didn't save him. God says, "Hello, dummy...I sent you 2 boats."

Is God saying to us, "Hello, dummies, there's raincoats right there." :)

That's a stretch for some of you, but for some, you are thinking That's right.

Then there is the other less material/trivial, more spiritual sounding issue...our lives as a whole (and this was something that was brought up in the comments). What are we here for? Another one of the pro-prevention questions we've had is that of children and our other callings in life. Obviously everyone has more than one calling. But, for some the calling of having children seems to be their main one. That is forefront to them...having and raising Godly children for God's glory and the work of His kingdom. In fact, that is an argument that some quiver full (for lack of a better all know what I mean when I say that, so it just makes it easier) people should have as many children as you can so that you will have more workers for the Kingdom. But, if everyone does that and is so busy raising children, what about the other work that you are supposed to do? What if your children that you raised to work for the Kingdom just focuses on raising up a ton of kids to work in the Kingdom and they do the same and so on and so on?

Example: Someone has an AMAZING evangelistic gifting and call on their lives. There is no fighting the fact that raising children takes time and alot of it. It is time well spent and MUCH enjoyed, don't get me wrong. But, if someone has a strong calling to do something other than the very high privilege and task of raising children...and really being there...not sure the numbers argument really wins me over. That is a great excitement for someone who is called to having a large (and I mean large, not this 5 or 6 kid "large" label that people have for what I consider small) family...those who don't prevent and eagerly anticipate the positive pregnancy tests each and every time...just can't wait for it...don't seem at all overwhelmed by it. For some, anything other than that reaction and outlook is lack of trust and peace and resting in God's ways. But, could it just be that some are called to that as a ministry and others aren't? Could it be that it's not just one set way for every family?

Back to the numbers and the evangelistic guy. If he is truly called to that but also has children, is it possible that by only having, say, 3-5 children (still a "large" family to some) he could do more for the kingdom than having more children? What if he is able to go evangelizing more because he has less children...therefore able to be more obedient to his main calling (don't is the main priority still, but you get me, right? is the main priority, but might not be your only ministry). What if he takes those children everywhere he goes and they become little I'd say that is potential for doing way more for the kingdom than just having more children. That is some major multiplication happening right there...and all with just 3-5 children. So yeah...that numbers argument has never worked for me. Besides, how many times did God use a smaller number of people to defeat a large army? Although I see the concept and logic of this point of numbers, I think the more important thing is to be powerful and strong (in God)'s not about being mighty in numbers.

But then we are back to the matter of whether or not we are the ones who have the "right" to prevent it with man-made means...contraceptives, surgeries, etc. Because, yes...of the anti-prevention people, there are those who have a child every year for years (i.e. Jaynee from the comments of the last post...those are some beautiful children, by the way). But, there are also some of my friends who have had a couple of children, then nothing for a few years, then another couple, then nothing and they thought they'd have no more, then another couple, etc. In other words, everything was a go and there was no physical reason that they weren't having a child every year also...the only explanation was that God was "closing her womb" for a time. Then I have another couple of friends who had 4 children in less than 4 years (yep, it's twins in there). Then nothing...again, no explanation in the physical.

Another aspect of all of this, and on a more personal note...if we do feel like God gives us the green light to use a prevention method, I absolutely despise every single one of them...seriously detest the thought of any of the contraceptives (and surgeries) available. Geez...the hassle that will be to weed through that. :) God has some major work to do with me. :) Or, is that God that I detest those things?

Oh, and I didn't even touch on the pro-prevention argument of physical reasons to prevent...if there are any...again, should we just trust? Maybe, but we aren't in the garden of Eden...things are not perfect and our bodies REALLY show it sometime, physically, mentally, emotionally. As I wrote in an email to a friend, the whole Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children in the tub comes to mind. But, then again, there are people I've read about who are adamant about their mandate to not prevent, saying that they would consider it something that God just allowed if they should die...leaving 10 children. Is that abandonment, a calling just for that specific person, or is that where all of us should be? It's a tough one...seriously.

In all of these examples, one thing that comes to mind (spiritual principle) is that God always expects and calls us to be wise and good stewards with our resources (time, money, physical bodies, etc.).

So, yeah...told you we could argue both sides. :)

Would love to continue hearing your thoughts.


I thought it was high time I finally got this posted for all of you (half a year or so after I first brought it up). :) I've been working on it for literally months, but can never finish it up, wrapping all my thoughts up in one neat little post. But, here's a shot at it.

First of all, let me take you back to this post and this post. And this post and this post. :)

So, we really fasted and prayed to reach an answer to all those questions in those posts. We've needed answers from God before, obviously. But, never with this urgency...and never concerning life. Kind of puts a different heftiness on it, you know?

We had definitely decided that we would not be using any kind of abortifacient birth control...that's a definite no-brainer. As research had shown, hmmm, that leaves barrier methods (male condom, female condom, cervical cap, diaphragm, spermacides...but, spermacides have been considered risky as far as miscarriages and birth defects although some studies suggest otherwise), withdrawal (I hate that word unless we are talking about money from a bank), and of course Natural Family Planning or Fertility Awareness Method or the Billings Method, etc. (natural ways to detect ovulation time in order to prevent pregnancy). Then of course there are the sterilization methods...also works as prevention obviously. Go here for a very readable overview with way more details (scroll down to the very bottom of the page).

In the list of abortifacient pregnancy prevention is the birth control pill (ALL birth control pills), Depo-Provera, birth control patch (OrthoEvra), the vaginal ring (Nuva-Ring), obviously those are out. Do any of you want to be killing off fertilized eggs (babies) in your thinned out uterus? I didn't think so.

So, what was our conclusion to all those questions that were whirling around in our heads?

We prayed and prayed and prayed and fasted and read books and fasted some more and then prayed...and prayed...and read some more get the idea.

God so sweetly spoke to us and gave us peace...the peace that you have when you know that you have an answer from God and this is it...that peace.

He so gently whispered in these last few months answers as it related to that we could understand HIS answers FOR US clearly. Here's a few of the ways He spoke to us...

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

We are all called to care for the widows and orphans, but are we all called to adopt? No. We aren't. I personally cannot fathom why one would not want to adopt, not be excited about that possibility, not feel called to it. But, there are many in this world who are not, do not. We are called to care for them...not adopt them.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We are all called to spread the gospel, but are we all called to literally and physically 'go' into all the nations? No. We are all called to help in this endeavor, but there are many facets in which this can be accomplished. Some are the senders, some the intercessors, etc. Some live their lives without ever GOing on even a short-term mission trip...does it mean they disobeyed? What if they gave thousands and thousands of dollars for others to go? What if they were physically unable to go? There are several roles needed in order for missions to exist and this verse to be carried out. Only a portion are called to actually do the physical going.

What about all the 'children are a blessing' verses or 'be fruitful and multiply?' Children ARE a blessing...there is no denying that...ever. When something is a blessing, are we to get as many of that particular blessing as possible? And here is a very interesting read on the 2nd verse mentioned. It wasn't read by us while seeking God on this...only now did I read it. But, it really echoes in my spirit.

Psalm 127:4-5 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

So true that a quiver full is a blessed thing. But, literally speaking, actual quivers that hold arrows come in all different sizes. Some hold over a dozen. Some hold only a few.

And that brings us to the question of the hour...are WE to use man-made methods (or even NFP or FAM, etc.) to regulate the size of that quiver?

I cannot tell you why or how, I cannot offer up this answer for you in your family in your calling, but I do know that we got our answer. I know that, at least for this time right now (today, March 22, 2009), we know what we are to do.

Our big question going into this was is it one way for everyone? Does God want EVERYone to follow what we call the 'quiver-full' we wait for Him alone to open and close our wombs? If that is so, that would also mean that those struggling to have children should solely rely on God...not use any forms of fertility treatments (no medicines like Clomid, no IVFs, etc.). Maybe some believe that, but I personally know some really great people who happened to be born as a result of those very methods.

What God spoke to us is that everyone has to seek God about this concerning their individual families. We all have a calling concerning the size of our families and how we reach that size. If you are called to the 'quiver-full' way, God will provide all things needed (material, emotional, physical, logistical) and will bless you abundantly. If you are not called to that, obey that...He will provide all things needed and will bless you abundantly. He will be very specific and provide you with all the instruction needed to live out your life and your calling before Him, involving children and everything else.

It is not a matter of faith vs. lack of faith. It is not a matter of fear vs. no fear. It is not a matter of comfort vs. no comfort, or diligence vs. laziness. It is a matter of hearing God and obeying Him, period.

As you may already have wondered by now, esp. since my baby is about to be a year old and I'm not already pregnant (that has never happened before), we do feel that God's word to us on this is to use non-abortifacient birth 'control.' It feels good to know that you know that you know that you heard God about something and follow through in obedience to that. You have peace. What if your desires don't line up with what you feel God said? He brings peace in obedience. What if your husband, your authority, isn't on board with your desires...and what you as the 'more spiritual one' feel you are to do? Obey your husband. God will bring peace.

Seek Him. He will answer you, He will speak to you in ways that you can understand and know the answer without a shadow of a doubt, and He will bring peace.

No comments: